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Expansion of Forest Service role a vital move

30 April 2021

The Forest Owners Association says the just announced creation of Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service heralds the potential to fix vital bottlenecks in the initial stages of the forest industry supply chain and drive further timber processing downstream as well.

The Association says the Minister of Forests, Stuart Nash’s announcement in Rotorua addresses a lack of good advice and support for potential foresters.

President, Phil Taylor, says an expanded Te Uru Rākau and a specific revival of the extension activities of the Forest Service, which had operated between 1949 and 1987, was a recognition of both the critical role forest plays in the New Zealand economy and its leading role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“There is so much expected of the forest industry by the government over the next ten to thirty years.  Yet the expert advice and assistance, which can best come from government, has been seriously lacking,” Phil Taylor says.

“Especially for farm foresters, advice on whether to plant, what to plant and how to manage, has been inadequate.  For a farmer, planting out a part of their farm is the second most important commercial decision of their lives, after buying the farm itself.  But so many of them appear to not have enough good information to go about it properly.”

“While there are excellent forest advisory and management companies operating, and I would hate to think their commercial operations would ever be compromised, there still needs to be an overarching coordination from government.”

“We have the Climate Change Commission wanting another 380,000 hectares planted in production forestry within the next 15 years, the government itself relying on us to earn an extra $2.6 billion in exports within 10 years, and an industry transformation which will be led by more processing in New Zealand.”

“I’m pleased for instance, that Stuart Nash said New Zealand will be relying on innovative timber construction, explicitly to replace steel and concrete, so we can store carbon in buildings rather than emit it.”

“All this is a huge challenge, and yet it requires good decisions now at planting time in the context of a wait for many years for a timber harvest.”

Phil Taylor also says he supports Stuart Nash’s colleague, Agriculture Minister, Damien O’Connor’s recently reported intention to examine what drives farmers to convert to forestry.

“It seems the government is having second thoughts about a knee-jerk restriction on the rate of conversion to forestry on better land and is more understanding of how vital it is to support farmers’ choices to enter this vital industry.”

Phil Taylor

‘ph 027 487 6890